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Acanthamoeba and other free-living amoebae in bat guano, an extreme habitat

Mulec, Janez, Dietersdorfer, Elisabeth, Üstüntürk-Onan, Miray, Walochnik, Julia
Parasitology research 2016 v.115 no.4 pp. 1375-1383
Acanthamoeba, Chiroptera, Naegleria, animal manures, bacteria, caves, environmental factors, fungi, habitats, pH, pathogens, Slovenia
Several representatives of the so-called free-living amoebae (FLA) are of medical relevance, not only as facultative pathogens but also as vehicles for pathogenic bacteria. Some FLA can survive and even grow under extreme environmental conditions. Bat guano is an exceptional habitat, the conditions becoming gradually more extreme with aging. In the current study, samples of bat guano of different ages from five caves in Slovenia were screened for the presence of FLA. FLA were isolated from almost all guano samples, including guano with a pH of 3.5. Only the two samples that had been drawn from >20-year-old guano were negative for FLA. Generally, FLA diversity correlated to high concentrations of cultivable bacteria (∼10⁸ CFU/g) and fungi (∼10⁵ CFU/g). Interestingly, the absence of FLA in seasoned guanos was mirrored by the presence of dictyostelid slime moulds. The isolated amoebae were identified as belonging to the genera Acanthamoeba, Copromyxa, Naegleria, Sappinia, Tetramitus, Thecamoeba, Vahlkampfia, Vannella and Vermamoeba. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first study on the diversity of FLA in guano.